Monday, August 2, 2021

JLA: Year One #12 (December, 1998)

The Daily Planet buzzed over Earth's heroes beating back the Appellaxian invaders. Two generations of Green Lanterns & friends saved Metropolis. Black Canary & the Blackhawks had an Iwo Jima moment in DC. Aquaman, the Sea Devils and others were in... um... ocean? Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Shining Knight, and Black Condor fought avians in... air, and Martian Manhunter had to listen to them wonder how the aliens knew all their secret identities. Awkward.

Kalar took out his frustrations on Stonehenge, where a teleporting Vandal Savage used the mindwipe device to take out a group of Appellaxians, and also took offense at the insult to his design. On to St. Louis. In a brilliant moment, the Atom shattered a crystal proxy by enlarging slightly in one of its flaws, but the explosion knocked Ray Palmer out, leaving his tiny form to be caught in the palms of Doll Man. In Paris, Molly Mayne reported on the Global Guardians. In Central City, Canary and Flash reunited, as did Barry Allen and Iris West, so Dinah made clear that she wasn't going to be her mother's daughter in a way that would make for two-timing. Also, Green Arrow showed up to flirt.

Martian Manhunter helped clear Peking, but even with Metamorpho and the Doom Patrol, the Great Wall was lost. Despite some gains, there were just too many aliens being fought by exhausted heroes. Even the mystical likes of Dr. Fate and the Spectre faltered. Vandal Savage offered a poisoned chalice, delivered by a shapeshifted Clayface in his image. The device, now set to kill all the Appellaxians on Earth with the touch of a button. The League debated. Aquaman and Flash leaned yeh, Canary and Lantern nay. Snapper Carr and Martian Manhunter went a third way, filtering the device's ray's through J'Onn's psyche to render it agonizing rather than lethal. The Alien Atlas head warped and mind verged on shattering. Aquaman whispered, "I'm here, J'Onn, my friend. Open your mind to me... Open your mind... to us." The League lent their own psyches to the filtration. The mystics creating a portal to Appellaxia, and those that didn't walk through it were tossed in. Savage wanted the League complicit in an act of vengeance. Canary insisted, "We're not about vengeance... we're about justice!"

Flash noted, "I'll say it again, J'Onn. You never fail to surprise us. That was one incredible risk." J'Onn felt he owed a debt to everyone there for the way he'd compromised them, which Canary assured with a kiss was "--Paid in full. Let it go. We will." Hawkman asserted that the Justice Society was proud to pass the torch, and Superman stated that there could be no greater honor than to serve at their side when needed. Planet headlines announced future victories against Amazo, (an anachronistic) Despero, and Kanjar Ro. Aquaman removed the plague commemorating the Appellaxian casualty of their first missio, and thought the surface dwellers had done a nice job pulling together. There was a very forced moment where Black Canary likened herself to a flower blossoming and a bunch of stuff about hers and Flash secret identities being trains going in different directions, yadda yadda. Green Lantern put forth the notion of expanding the roster, beginning with Green Arrow, to the questioning of Dinah and Barry. They took it to a vote. As it turned out, the identity of the secret financier Simon Carr continued to keep was none other than Oliver Queen. "The Irony is just to wicked."

"Justice for All" was by storytellers Mark Waid / Brian Augustyn / Barry Kitson with inker Michael Bair. This extra-length finale didn't take so long to read or to write up, but I put it off because of all the expected listing of names and locations and this happened and that happened. All the toys got set up in their displays and the good guys won. I appreciated that this series made a point of spotlighting the original Blue Beetle, often overlooked in DC history as one of the earliest published super-heroes (thanks to his originating at another publisher and not moving to DC until after Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas were heading out the door.) Still, fanboy here, so can't quite forget that the Seven Soldiers of Victory should have still been separated and lost in time.

Overall, the story is nice and pleasant, with no small amount of nostalgia both for Silver Age comics and even then-contemporary ones. There are some great bits and classic character moments. The whole premise of a super-alien with total recall keeping filing cabinets full of excruciatingly sensitive data about masked heroes on paper in filing cabinets behind a false wall is about the dopiest I could point to off the top of my head. It worked way better as encrypted files on the Bat-computer in "Tower of Babel." All the Appellaxian stuff goes on for too long, and I wish we'd had more single issue spotlights and attention to period detail. Then again, they tried that with the quasi-sequel Incarnations, and maybe not so much. This is probably my second or third pass reading the material, and my second write-up, so I'm probably done revisiting it unbidden by outside factors. I like it fine, but prefer to skim rather than fully invest as a whole, which is probably why it never got a proper adaptation.


kevin from new orleans said...

Great Synopsis as always

Diabolu Frank said...

Glad you dug it! Haven't settled on the next series, but will probably go back to finish covering the Priest JLTF run.